The COVID Diaries: Service provider 5
The following interview is with an Australian-based service provider to the debt capital markets. It was conducted on 20 May 2020.
Does your business have a timeline for returning to office working – and are you looking forward to it?
There is no rush, but plans are being put in place and we are organising ourselves towards this point. I think it will probably be July before we return to the office, though.
Frankly, we are not concerned about this. We left all our offices around the country in a hurry, basically overnight, and got to work. There have not been too many complaints about technology or anything else. It has been smooth, all things considered.
It seems that everyone got over the initial shock of working from home very quickly.
It has been a very good test. Everyone has disaster recovery plans, but you never think you will need to use them. When things go wrong for a couple of hours it usually seems like a disaster, but here we are nearly three months down the track and everything has gone well.
“The other factor of working from home is that it can be relentless. A lot of people are telling me they get up in the morning, go straight into work and then at the end of the day there is a massive increase in emails coming after 5pm.”
How do you think things will be different when we get back to normal? What changes can you see to work practices, social changes and the economy?
To comply with social distancing, a lot of offices will be going back with people rotating one week in the office and one week out so half the number of people will be using the office. This will change demand for office space immeasurably.
There will be a lot more working from home, either on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. For the past 5-6 years, we have had a very strong focus on flexibility with employees and this will be enhanced and magnified now. People will have different needs.
Every day I am calling a couple of people just to see how they are going, and I have been doing this for the past three months. Not for any particular reason, just to see how everyone is responding as things change. There are two camps: those that have embraced the situation and want to work from home more permanently and those that do not – who, for one reason or another, miss being around other people and want to be back in the office environment.
Do you get a sense that connectivity and greater concern for colleagues’ wellness is something a lot of people will take away from this?
The lines between work and home are becoming blurred which is difficult for a lot of people to deal with. We need some reality around this – it cannot be maintained forever. I think this has been part of the experiment of the last three months. People have worked out ways to work that work for them. Going forward I think there will be a lot more thought from people on what exactly is best for them.
Are you more or less optimistic about the crisis than you were during the early acceleration period of moving to home working and adding social distancing measures?
What are you most looking forward to as restrictions are eased in the coming weeks and months?